Sri Lanka all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva has rebuffed reports that he refused to bat at No.7 in the upcoming ODIs against New Zealand.

Sri Lanka are about to start a must-win three-match ODI series against New Zealand tomorrow (March 25) which will help to decide their fate regarding automatic World Cup qualification. At a time when they should ideally be ironing out their flaws and making strategies on how to defeat the hosts, they have been struck with controversy with Dhananjaya de Silva in the middle of it all.

In a tweet posted a few hours back, Sri Lankan commentator Roshan Abeysinghe said, “Cricketer Dhananjaya de Silva refuses to bat at No. 7 in tomorrow’s match against New Zealand & hence not included in the team. He is tipped to miss the next two matches as well.”

This led to widespread speculations with no official statement emerging from the Sri Lankan camp. De Silva took to Twitter and came out with a statement on his own, clarifying that the story about him doing the rounds on social media is false.

“The story circulating in social media saying that I have refused to bat at No. 7 during tomorrow’s game is false, and I wish to state that I am a player who always stands with the team,” he said in his tweet.

De Silva has been the backbone of the Sri Lanka middle order in all three formats for several years now. He has batted 181 times across formats in international cricket, playing various roles over his seven-year-long career. While Test cricket has been his strongest format, he has regularly managed to find a place in the Sri Lanka white ball teams as well, especially in the last couple of years.

Since 2020, De Silva has played the role of an accumulator in the middle order in ODIs and at No.3 in T20Is. 19 of his 22 ODI innings in this period have come either at No.4 or 5, while 16 of his 22 T20I innings in this period have come in the top four.

With career ODI and T20I strike rates of 78.3 and 114.4 respectively, it is safe to say that he has not been the quickest of scorers in international cricket and that a finisher’s role is not what any team would ideally want him to perform.